Lane County Department of Public Works held its second public meeting in the area May 4 at Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Main Station. The presentation was the fifth in the current series of public meetings, which is intended to solicit input on the department’s Master Park Plan.
The presentation was an interactive exercise between department administrators and the Florence community, similar to a previous meeting held in Mapleton. The format employed used charts and informational slides to prompt audience members to consider and discuss the direction that the county should take in developing and maintaining the various parks in the county system.
Lane County Public Works Director Tim Elsea commented on the desire of his department to get as much information from the public as possible.
“We are working with the residents to create a Parks Master Plan that will not only serve the county for the next 20 years, but for the next generation,” Elsea said.
According to the meeting, Lane County’s parks system includes 71 parks and more than 4,000 acres.
“These parks are vital to the quality of life of our residents, and Lane County needs to understand what our residents’ value in order to be the best possible steward of those parks,” Elsea said. Parks and Animal Services Manager Mike Russell moderated the meeting, which had approximately 50 attendees.
County staff said the Florence meeting had the largest turnout for the series so far.
Members of the Parks Master Plan Task Force also contributed to the discussion. One of those members, Florence resident Mike Allen, has been involved in the task force since it began just over a year ago.
“It started when I became interested in our local Harbor Vista Park and I was a host there with my wife. At the time, the county parks system was doing a revisioning of their master plan and they were looking for people to represent districts across the whole county,” Allen said. “They were looking for someone from the coast to give input. I responded and they choose myself and two others from the area to represent the coastal community interests.”
Allen and the task force spent much of the past year getting familiar with the previous incarnations of the county’s plan and learning of the need for public input on the project moving forward.
“We met four or five times at the park offices in Eugene and ... we did a lot of visioning activities,” Allen said. “There was a broad spectrum of people, not just from the coastal areas but from across the county, and some members of the parks advisory committee joined us as well.”
Public input provided at the park meetings has provided Elsea’s department with many new ideas and issues to consider while formulating the plan moving forward.
“So far, this process has reaffirmed how much people value their parks, and it is honestly energizing to us to hear how Lane County Parks improves quality of life for the residents we serve. We have also heard a strong desire for greater involvement by ‘Friends of’ groups and for additional investment in park facilities,” Elsea said.
He also said that most residents believe it will take many different approaches, coalitions and partnerships to maintain the resources currently available while planning for the improvements needed to serve the community in the future.
Allen added an important element to the discussion by suggesting an increase in one area that the county should consider when finalizing the master plan.
“I wanted to bring to these meetings my interest in having the county park system provide more educational opportunities, and I found that I wasn’t alone in that desire,” Allen said.
County residents are encouraged to participate in the development of the master plan by going online and completing a survey about the issues being considered.
There will also be additional public meetings held in Oakridge and Springfield.
For more information, visit www.lanecounty.org/parks.